The Sneetches Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2
Keywords: 
Civil Society
Philanthropic Literature
Prejudice
Racism
Sneetches (The)
War
by Dr. Seuss A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of generosity, community, and service to others.

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Although it is difficult to admit, we all are influenced by our prejudices. The more we are aware of our prejudices, the less harmful they are. This book by Dr. Seuss helps children see the silliness of judging people by their appearance rather than by their character. After reading the story, discuss the many wonderful differences in people of the world. Even within our own families we have differences, and in order to get along it is important to respect differences of others. Enjoy the other stories in the book, too.

Before Reading

ASK: Ask your children to think about how people differ in their school or community. Think of attributes such as hair color, birth order in the family, favorite breakfast foods, shoe color, and clothing styles. Discuss whether these attributes make some people better or worse than others in the community. Tell the children that you are going to read a book in which these kinds of differences really do matter to the community.

Note: For younger children, have them sort plastic animals (or use other toys with different attributes) into different groups by attributes such as color, size, or body covering. Talk about whether these differences make them better or worse than other animals.

SHOW: Look at a picture that contrasts the attitudes of the Star-Belly Sneetches with the Plain-Belly Sneetches. Notice how they both seem to feel about themselves.

CONNECT: Ask your children if they have ever felt the way that the Star-Belly Sneetches seem to feel (proud, better than someone else). Have they ever felt the way the Plain-Belly Sneetches seem to feel (sad, left out, not as good)? Should physical differences determine how people are treated?

During Reading

ASK: Predict what may happen next when Mr. McBean, the star-remover, comes.

SHOW: Look at the picture of the Fix-it-Up Chappie driving away with their money. Discuss how the Sneetches must feel right then.

CONNECT: Talk about interesting words and stop and repeat phrases that are fun to say. Enjoy the language. The Fix-it-Up Chappie came to make money and laughed as he drove away. Do we ever spend money on foolish things?

After Reading

ASK: What lesson did the Sneetches learn? What will be different for them now? How much did it cost them? Was the cost too high or was it worth it?

SHOW: Go back and review some parts of the book together. Reread good parts while the chilren read along. 

CONNECT: Introduce and define the words prejudice and acceptance. The Star-Belly Sneetches showed prejudice against the Plain-Belly Sneetches when they could have shown acceptance for their differences. Discuss why it is important not to allow any form of prejudice in our family or community. What damage could it do? What are the benefits of treating everyone with fairness and respect? Should physical differences ever determine how people are treated? Why or why not?

Activities

  1. Discuss the importance of respect for others. How do children act toward one another if they have respect for each other? Ask each child to write or illustrate a benefit of acceptance and treating others with respect.
  2. Brainstorm a list of physical differences, such as hair color, skin color, length of hair, wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, and shape of eyes. Discuss the beauty of diversity in the world.
  3. Literature connection: Read a book about an important community figure such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Read a book about a child with a physical challenge. Discuss the contributions of people who do great things in difficult circumstances. Discuss how people are sometimes prejudged based on their appearance and then they surprise the people who judged them.
  4. Math Connection: Using a set of toys such as cars, dolls, plastic animals, or books, lead the child into a creative sorting activity.
    • Sort the toys into groups according to one attribute such as color.
    • Label each group on index cards (red, blue, green, etc.)
    • Mix the toys up and sort them in a different way such as size, thickness, number or legs, pages, sides, etc.)
    • Label each group on index cards (thick, thin).
    • Make a Venn diagram by forming two overlapping circles with two long pieces of yarn.
    • Place any two unrelated cards (thick and red) on the diagram—one card for each circle. Sort all of the toys into the diagram. Some toys may fit in one circle, while others may fit in the intersection (a thick red book), and others will go outside both circles (a thin blue block).
  5. Art Connection: Draw two Seuss-like sets of unique creatures like the Sneetches. Give them names that include the attribute that makes them wonderfully unique. (Draw them living in harmony.)
  6. Social Studies Connection: Discuss the characteristics of the place where the Sneetches live. How is the place they live influenced by the Sneetches? How are the Sneetches affected by the place they live? Think about how you interact with the place you live.